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How Billerud helped Oatly reduce CO2eq emissions on secondary packaging by up to 50%*

Here is how BoxLab engineers helped Oatly reduce the carbon footprint of their secondary packaging. What Oatly was after, to begin with, was to ensure reliable box performance. Especially since the boxes were to be used in a hot and humid climate. More than anything, it became a question of choosing boxes made of strong primary fibres. Which also brought about exceptional environmental advantages.

The secondary packaging in question was corrugated transport boxes. BoxLab helped Oatly with high-performance boxes that could endure the challenging supply chains in Asia. Corrugated transport boxes designed to hold six 1-litre cartons of oat drink for distribution from their Singapore factory to customers in nearby markets. The solution was a rather comprehensive one and is best described as an action plan in four steps.

*Estimate based on Billeruds' Environmental Tool comparing Billeruds packaging solution with locally produced packaging solutions.


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Hot and humid climate puts extreme demands on transport boxes. The solution is not thicker material but a stronger fibre mix and material composition.

1. Choose resource-efficient material

The BoxLab engineers advised Oatly to use primary fibres for the boxes. Because primary fibres are strong, and with less you can do more. It's a better choice for packaging in demanding supply chains and challenging climates. Boxes with a high content of recycled fibres are not strong enough to endure the hot and humid climate of south-east Asia.

It is widely assumed that recycled fibres are more sustainable than primary fibres - but that is not always the case. Material of primary fibres is renewable, recyclable and biodegradable - and can be certified and traced back to responsibly managed forests.

You need an optimized strength vs. weight ratio - lightweighting is key to sustainable packaging. The expertise and advanced equipment at BoxLab ensure a cost effective and climate smart solution.

2. Optimize your packaging

Optimization is to a great extent about resource efficiency. With the right dimensioning of your boxes - in terms of structural design, composition, material selection - you will save resources and money, while also reducing your carbon footprint. And it all starts with strong primary fibres.

Strength means weight reduction opportunities, with cost savings and environmental advantages as a result. Less raw material, less water consumption, less transport and warehousing requirements, and less waste generation add up to lower cost and lower environmental impact.

The packaging optimization that BoxLab worked out for Oatly achieved an estimated 35% packaging material saving compared to the local, conventional solution! This has meant a great difference. At the Singapore plant it means a substantial saving of packaging material per year.

3. Rethink your supply chain

Locally sourced packaging material is not always the best option. Looking at quality and packaging performance, Oatly could source the material from a far-off corner of the world and still get a more sustainable solution. Even when the transport is considered. It's a myth that transport stands for the big part of CO2 emissions. What is more: when the production of your packaging material is 97% fossil-free - which it is at BillerudKorsnäs - the carbon footprint is very small.

4. Check the origins of your material

Sustainability means that the packaging solution is sustainable all the way. When you look at the bigger picture that involves sustainable sourcing, packaging optimization, material selection, capturing and storing of CO2, and logistics, BoxLab's solution for Oatly's secondary packaging is estimated at a reduction of CO2 emissions by 50%.

Emissions of CO2 equivalents is one way of expressing environmental impact. Fresh water consumption is another. Access to quality fresh water cannot be taken for granted in the long term, and paper manufacture is water intensive. With the solution that BillerudKorsnäs proposed to Oatly, fresh water consumption was cut from 24,000 m3 a year to a mere 10,000 m3.

We always look to find solutions to make our production chain more sustainable, transparent and resource efficient. Therefore it’s great that we are able to work with BillerudKorsnäs to find this solution to lower the climate impact and optimize the design of our Asian packaging.
Jenny Belsö Trojer, Global Cat Manager Packaging Material at Oatly

Key results

  • Minimized damage and waste throughout the logistics chain
  • Focus on the resource efficiency - using as little material as possible
  • Minimizing water usage
  • Use of packaging material that is recyclable and comes from renewable sources

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